Jamie Hallam is a grieving mother. Ariana and Tyler Payne lost their lives while staying with their father, Christopher Payne and his girlfriend, Reina Gonzales. An anonymous complaint to CPS resulted in an investigation of Jamie Hallam, which was eventually closed and ruled unsubstantiated in October 2005. For the duration of the investigation, CPS allowed the children to stay with their father, who had not been given visitation or custody since his divorce from Ms. Hallam. After the Hallam CPS investigation was closed, CPS failed to assist Ms. Hallam with returning her children to her. For the duration that the children were left with Mr. Payne, Child Protective Services (CPS) and the Tucson Police Department failed to investigate the current criminal charges against Mr. Payne and his criminal background. Allegedly, CPS did not follow up to check on the welfare of the two children during an extended time period that they were living with their father. Despite Ms. Hallam’s attempts to have her children returned to her, she was unable to make contact with them. Ms. Hallam’s calls to Mr. Payne’s residence went un-answered. She sought assistance from CPS and the Tucson Police Department. Tragically, by February 2007, Ariana’s body was found decomposing in a storage locker and Tyler’s body has not been found yet. Post mortem examination of Ariana’s body reveals that she was a victim of abuse prior to her death. Had CPS and the Tucson Police Department checked on her welfare, the children would have been removed from their father’s home before their untimely deaths. Ariana was four years old at the time she died. Tyler is presumed dead, he was five years old when his mother last saw him. The State of Arizona has reached a settlement with Ms. Hallam. 

While women are more likely and are more frequently the abusers, men abuse more severely and are more likely to be sexual abusers. Parents with unrealistic expectations and poor coping skills are most at risk for engaging in abusive behavior. CPS is responsible for conducting background checks on all adults providing care for children that are removed from the care of custodial parents. Adults that are in frequent contact with children in state custody should have criminal background checks. A failure to check on the welfare of children in foster care arrangements with family or foster parents is a deviation from CPS practice standards. Moral neglect exists when parents or caregivers allow a child to remain in environments with immoral conditions.

 

Christopher Keane
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California Child Abuse and Child Injury Lawyer
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